Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 31: Ivan Nahem

Ritual Tension (Ivan Nahem center), photo from Bandcamp

Ivan Nahem’s career in music reads like a who’s who of early New York post-punk and No Wave. He was in a band called Carnival Crash with Norman Westberg before the latter joined Swans. Nahem himself performed on the Swans albums Greed and Holy Money while he was a member of industrial post-punk outfit Ritual Tension from 1983 until its dissolution in 1990. The group’s confrontational energy, tribal percussion style and noisy, caustic guitar sound and deranged-sounding vocals was akin to the likes of, naturally, Swans but also Scratch Acid and Flipper. Once Ritual Noise parted company Nahem stopped being as actively involved in making music. But In 2016 Nahem and his brother Andrew started working on remixing their early song “All Wound Up.” A year later Nahem was asked by Gregg Bielski to put spoken word vocals to his tracks and the project came to be called ex->tension. But in the end Ritual Tension reunited in 2017 and continues to this day. 2022 finds Nahem releasing a new solo album Crawling Through Grass with collaborations from Bielski, his brother Andrew, Westberg, Mark C (of Live Skull), Jon Friend (Campfire Flies), Jadwiga Taba (Nac/Hut Report) and Nahem’s wife Helen. The new album is a true fusion of post-punk, musique concrète, ambient, folk, tape collage and what might be described as New Age meditation music all born out of Nahem’s yoga practice and interest in Eastern philosophy and sounds like music made in a remote monastery dedicated to universal tranquility. For Nahem it probably seems natural and intuitive to go in that musical direction but for those more familiar with his 1980s output it’s a fascinating contrast of styles and yet both seem aimed at a catharsis and transcendent experience and attaining a deep interconnectedness with others and within oneself.

Listen to our interview with Ivan Nahem below, give a listen to Crawling Through Grass and connect with Nahem at the links provided.


Ivan Nahem on Facebook

Ivan Nahem on Instagram

Ritual Tension on Instagram

Arguably Records on Bandcamp

Ritual Tension on Facebook

Carnival Crash on Facebook

Ritual Tension on YouTube


Author: simianthinker

Editor, primary content provider for this blog. Former contributor to Westword and The Onion.

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